Political Theory

Strategy Under Uncertainty: International Conflict and Variation in Information

Authors

Abstract

When do states stand firm, back down, concede or settle with the status quo? The crisis bargaining literature offers a rich assessment of the dynamics of international conflict, accounting for the variation in the economic and the domestic audience costs. Yet, the literature does not consider the role of variation in information available to states engaged in a conflict – limiting our ability to theorise about states' strategy under different levels of uncertainty. Here, we extend the existing models of crisis bargaining, to allow for variation in information, and show that uncertainty and costs are separate mechanisms in respect to states behaviour. Moreover, we generate a set of propositions in respect to threats effectiveness and prospects of conflict onset for different values of uncertainty and for beliefs-updating. We also show how variation in incomplete information interacts with the economic cost of conflict and the domestic audience cost, altering states' behaviour.

Version notes

In this version we offer a formal analysis of the role of beliefs-updating that results from an exogenous shock during the bargaining process.

Content

Thumbnail image of Threat_Theoretical.pdf

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